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Studies underscore genetic involvement in nicotine addiction & aggressive hostility

ecific components of aggression in 58 participants appeared to relate to the U allele (variation) of a gene called TPH (tryptophan hydroxylase), a marker that might be linked to another yet unknown gene with specific and functional aspects. Says Hennig, "Linkage means that both genes are transmitted together due to their being close neighbors on the same chromosome."

The researchers measured genotypes dubbed AA, AC and CC. The "AA" genotype was associated with the highest levels of aggression, whereas the "CC" genotype was associated with lowest levels.

Using another sample of 48 men, the authors also validated the distinction between irritable, verbally abusive "neurotic hostility" and more violent, guilt-free "aggressive hostility" found in the Buss-Durkee Hostility Inventory, a research tool used worldwide. The authors say that their finding underscores the value of distinguishing among different aspects of aggression.

Finally, only the "aggressively hostile" men released high levels of cortisol, a key stress-hormone, after taking an anti-depressant drug that makes serotonin more available in the brain. The authors speculate that, after being deprived of serotonin, these men's neural receptors were exquisitely sensitive and primed to over-react, in part by producing extra cortisol.

Tying together the three findings, Hennig concludes that, "We found that gene polymorphisms contribute to the variance that can be found in neuro-endocrine challenge tests and personality questionnaires in healthy individuals. This demonstrates that certain aspects of behavior relate to biological systems, such as neurotransmitter systems."


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American Psychological Association
6-Mar-2005


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